Latest Hugo Chavez News

  • Venezuela's Maduro given decree powers for rest of 2015
    Venezuela's Maduro given decree powers for rest of 2015 Sun, Mar 15, 2015

    By Deisy Buitrago and Andrew Cawthorne CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's parliament granted President Nicolas Maduro decree powers on Sunday for the rest of 2015 in a move he says is to defend the country from U.S. meddling but opponents decry as evidence of autocracy. In a noisy National Assembly session, ruling Socialist Party legislators, who have a majority, applauded the "Enabling Law" as a legitimate response to a U.S. declaration that Venezuela is a security threat and sanctions on seven officials. "They (the United States) want to stick their hands into Venezuela's wealth, just as they have done in other countries," ruling party legislator Tania Diaz said, presenting the "anti-imperialist" Enabling Law to parliament. Outside, red-clad Maduro supporters chanted and held placards proclaiming: "Yankees go home." In their speeches, angry opposition lawmakers said Maduro was cynically exploiting the diplomatic flare-up with Washington to amass powers, justify repression and distract Venezuelans from economic problems including acute shortages. More »

  • Venezuela stages military exercise to counter U.S. 'threat'
    Venezuela stages military exercise to counter U.S. 'threat' Sun, Mar 15, 2015

    By Alexandra Ulmer and Deisy Buitrago CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela on Saturday staged a military exercise to counter an alleged U.S. threat, deploying soldiers and partisans across the country to march, man shoulder-fired missiles and defend an oil refinery from a simulated attack. Socialist President Nicolas Maduro has framed recent U.S. sanctions on seven Venezuelan officials as a bid to topple him, and on Saturday his government mobilized 80,000 soldiers and 20,000 civilians as part of a 10-day military drill. "The United States has declared Venezuela a threat," said General Vladimir Padrino, Venezuela's defence minister. "And that means an imminent danger for us, so we have to use the National Bolivarian Armed Forces (FANB) as part of our constitutional mission to guarantee independence and sovereignty." Opposition leaders labelled the exercise a farce and accused Maduro, increasingly unpopular as a result of an economic crisis, of seeking to distract Venezuelans from long queues for scarce products, sky-high inflation and rampant crime. More »

  • Venezuela gears up military machine amid economic crunch
    Venezuela gears up military machine amid economic crunch Sun, Mar 15, 2015

    Rolling out tanks, missiles and 100,000 men, Venezuela launched 10 days of military exercises, amid sky-high tensions over US sanctions slapped on officials accused of an opposition crackdown. More »

  • What happened to Putin? Satirists run riot online
    What happened to Putin? Satirists run riot online Fri, Mar 13, 2015

    A wave of savage mockery broke over Russian President Vladimir Putin across the Internet on Friday, sparked by days of absence from public view, despite official insistence it was business as usual in the Kremlin. State television footage of Putin working at his residence failed to quell the tide of fantastical theories circulating online that the 62-year-old Kremlin leader had died, been deposed, or travelled to Switzerland to watch his girlfriend give birth. Ukrainian children produced a cartoon showing Putin abducted from the Kremlin by aliens. While hard facts are scarce, there has been speculation of a split between rival Kremlin camps since the killing of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov near Red Square on Feb. 27. More »

  • Insight - Its red shirts fading, Venezuela's oil giant embraces pragmat …
    Insight - Its red shirts fading, Venezuela's oil giant embraces pragmat … Fri, Mar 13, 2015

    By Alexandra Ulmer and Marianna Parraga CARACAS/HOUSTON (Reuters) - A subtle change in office attire may be the most telling symbol of a quiet revolution taking place inside Venezuela's troubled economic engine, giant oil firm PDVSA. For years, PDVSA employees were encouraged to wear red shirts in support of late President Hugo Chavez's socialist movement. Rafael Ramirez, the former oil czar famously vowed the state-owned firm would be "redder than red" and sent workers to state rallies. Over the past few months, however, the company's new management - led by president Eulogio del Pino, a low-profile Stanford-educated engineer - has eased up on revolutionary garb and attendance at militant gatherings, according to sources within and outside the company. More »

  • Venezuela's Maduro says may go to U.S. to challenge Obama
    Venezuela's Maduro says may go to U.S. to challenge Obama Fri, Mar 13, 2015

    By Andrew Cawthorne CARACAS (Reuters) - Ridiculing the U.S. qualification of Venezuela as a security threat, President Nicolas Maduro said on Thursday he may travel to Washington to challenge American counterpart Barack Obama. "We demand, via all global diplomatic channels, that President Obama rectify and repeal the immoral decree declaring Venezuela a threat to the United States," Maduro said. In the worst flare-up between the ideological enemies since Maduro took power in 2013, Washington earlier this week declared a "national emergency" over "the unusual and extraordinary threat" from Venezuela and sanctioned seven officials over allegations of rights abuses and corruption. Conversely, it accuses Washington of helping coup plotters and preparing a military invention. More »

  • Venezuela envoy sorry for joke about bullets striking opponents Fri, Mar 13, 2015

    By Andrew Cawthorne CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's ambassador to the Organization of American States apologised on Thursday for joking how bullets would sound going through "empty" heads of government opponents. "I added a bit of black humour at the end that might have been a mistake," the veteran diplomat and former foreign minister, Roy Chaderton, said of his controversial remarks earlier in the week. The comments came when he was explaining how sniper bullets would not distinguish between "Chavistas" and "squalid ones" - terms coined during the 1999-2013 rule of socialist leader Hugo Chavez to describe government supporters and opponents. In Thursday's radio interview, Chaderton argued that his critics had twisted his comments and missed his point that opponents of President Nicolas Maduro's government would also be at risk if there was a U.S. invasion of Venezuela. More »

  • Venezuelan leader closer to decree powers
    Venezuelan leader closer to decree powers Wed, Mar 11, 2015

    Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro moved closer Wednesday to ruling by decree after the legislature held a first vote that would allow him to act against "external or internal" threats to peace. More »

  • U.S. sanctions may be godsend for struggling Venezuelan leader Wed, Mar 11, 2015

    By Alexandra Ulmer CARACAS (Reuters) - At the start of the year, a grave-faced President Nicolas Maduro promised "God would provide" after oil prices crashed by half, exacerbating Venezuela's deep recession, chronic shortages and sky-high inflation. 'PLAYING INTO MADURO'S HANDS' Washington's sanctions hand Maduro, whose popularity has slipped to the low 20s according to local pollster Datanalisis, ammunition to back his view of foreign sabotage. More »

  • Venezuela's Maduro seeks decree powers to face U.S. 'imperialism …
    Venezuela's Maduro seeks decree powers to face U.S. 'imperialism … Wed, Mar 11, 2015

    By Andrew Cawthorne CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday asked parliament for decree powers in response to new U.S. sanctions, in a move opposition critics slammed as a power-grab. If as expected the government-controlled National Assembly approves his request for an "Enabling Law", it would be the second time the 52-year-old successor to Hugo Chavez has gained these expanded powers since winning election in 2013. "I've come to ask for an Enabling Law to confront the aggression of the most powerful country in the world, the United States, against this beautiful nation," Maduro told parliament. "This is a law that will prepare our country, may we never be caught off guard." His adversaries say he is using the worst flare-up with Washington during his nearly two-year rule to justify autocratic governance, sidetrack parliament and distract attention from a shrinking economy and chronic product shortages. More »

  • U.S. declares Venezuela a national security threat, sanctions top officials
    U.S. declares Venezuela a national security threat, sanctions top officials Tue, Mar 10, 2015

    By Jeff Mason and Roberta Rampton WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States declared Venezuela a national security threat on Monday and ordered sanctions against seven officials from the oil-rich country in the worst bilateral diplomatic dispute since socialist President Nicolas Maduro took office in 2013. U.S. President Barack Obama signed and issued the executive order, which senior administration officials said did not target Venezuela's energy sector or broader economy. More »

  • Obama orders deeper Venezuela sanctions over abuses
    Obama orders deeper Venezuela sanctions over abuses Mon, Mar 9, 2015

    US President Barack Obama ordered new sanctions Monday against senior Venezuelan officials involved in cracking down on the opposition. More »

  • Crisis-hit Venezuela pays tribute to Chavez, two years on
    Crisis-hit Venezuela pays tribute to Chavez, two years on Thu, Mar 5, 2015

    Fireworks lit up the dawn skies as Venezuela paid tribute Thursday to leftist firebrand Hugo Chavez two years after his death, but the movement he founded faces its worst approval ratings ever amid a deepening economic crisis. More »

  • In crisis-hit Venezuela, even opponents miss Chavez
    In crisis-hit Venezuela, even opponents miss Chavez Thu, Mar 5, 2015

    Since Hugo Chavez died two years ago, Venezuela's economy has tanked and the government has lurched toward more repressive tactics, triggering nostalgia among the late leftist firebrand's supporters and even his opponents. More »

  • Venezuela opposition leader fears vote will be scrapped
    Venezuela opposition leader fears vote will be scrapped Wed, Mar 4, 2015

    Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles says he fears President Nicolas Maduro's crisis-hit government, fearing a humiliating loss, will cancel key legislative elections later this year. More »

  • Venezuelans fret Maduro measures may slow U.S. visas
    Venezuelans fret Maduro measures may slow U.S. visas Wed, Mar 4, 2015

    By Andrew Cawthorne CARACAS (Reuters) - Queuing in their hundreds from dawn then often waiting for hours in the sun, Venezuelans seeking U.S. visas fear their government's order to slash American embassy staff to less than a fifth of current levels may snarl the process far more. In his latest spat with the United States, socialist President Nicolas Maduro has accused Washington of promoting a coup against him and announced a series of reprisal measures, including the order to downsize the enormous U.S. mission in Caracas from 100 to 17 staff within two weeks. I think it's crazy, this decision," she said, as scores of Venezuelans waited in the street or under trees outside the hilltop embassy. The U.S. visa system in Venezuela seems relatively efficient, with payments and applications made in advance on the internet, before appointments are scheduled. More »

  • Venezuela launches new US visa requirement
    Venezuela launches new US visa requirement Tue, Mar 3, 2015

    Venezuela began requiring visas for US travelers to the country Tuesday, implementing a measure announced by President Nicolas Maduro in retaliation for American "meddling." More »

  • Venezuela initiates visa requirement for U.S. travellers Tue, Mar 3, 2015

    CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela on Tuesday began requiring U.S. travellers to seek visas before visiting the South American nation amid an escalation of diplomatic tensions between Washington and the administration of President Nicolas Maduro. The socialist government on Monday ordered the U.S. Embassy in Caracas to slash its staff by 80 percent, days after Maduro said several Americans had been detained on suspicions they were involved in espionage. ... More »

  • Venezuela tells U.S. embassy in Caracas: Cut staff by 80 percent Mon, Mar 2, 2015

    By Diego Ore CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela on Monday ordered the U.S. embassy in Caracas to reduce staff from 100 to 17 amid the worst diplomatic flare-up between the two ideological foes since socialist President Nicolas Maduro was elected in 2013. Maduro, who like his predecessor Hugo Chavez frequently locks horns with Washington, has stepped up accusations in recent weeks that the United States is seeking to topple him. The measures announced in response to alleged coup plotting are the most significant against Washington of Maduro's nearly two-year rule, though foes say they represent a timeworn tactic to distract Venezuelans from their economic troubles. "They have 15 days to reduce the size of their embassy to 17 staffers," Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said after a meeting with the U.S. Chargé d'Affaires Lee McClenny, Washington's most senior diplomat in Venezuela. More »

  • Insight - As Venezuela coffee output sinks, it swaps oil to import Nicaraguan …
    Insight - As Venezuela coffee output sinks, it swaps oil to import Nicaraguan … Sun, Mar 1, 2015

    By Luc Cohen and Ivan Castro NEW YORK/MANAGUA (Reuters) - Venezuela, once a proud exporter of premium coffee, has been reduced to swapping crude oil for growing volumes of Nicaraguan coffee beans to make sure worsening economic turmoil does not prevent people from getting their caffeine fix.     For the first time on record, coffee imports this year will exceed the bean output of Venezuela's centuries-old coffee industry, according to U.S. government estimates. ... More »

  • Venezuela to limit US diplomats, require visas for Americans
    Venezuela to limit US diplomats, require visas for Americans Sun, Mar 1, 2015

    President Nicolas Maduro plans to limit the US diplomatic presence in Venezuela and require American tourists to obtain visas, in a sign of growing tensions between the two countries. More »

  • 5 Similarities Between Spain's Podemos Party and Greece's Syriza Fri, Feb 27, 2015

    Syriza, the leftist coalition elected last month to lead Greece, has an ally in Spain’s Podemos party, the subject of a page-one article in The Wall Street Journal. Podemos, which is surging in voter surveys less than a year before Spanish elections, shares Syriza’s outlook on eurozone troubles that have hit both countries hard. More »

  • Protests continue in Venezuela as teen shot by police is buried
    Protests continue in Venezuela as teen shot by police is buried Thu, Feb 26, 2015

    By Javier Faria SAN CRISTOBAL, Venezuela (Reuters) - Sporadic protests flared in different parts of Venezuela on Wednesday, a day after a policeman shot dead a teenager during a demonstration against President Nicolas Maduro's government in the volatile city of San Cristobal. The worst unrest was again in San Cristobal, where distraught relatives of 14-year-old Kluibert Roa held a wake and funeral following his killing on Tuesday. Local authorities declared a day of mourning, and many shops stayed closed in fear of trouble as well as to honour Roa. "My son was neither an opposition supporter nor a 'Chavista,' he was my son, the apple of my eye," his father, Erick Roa, said at the funeral. More »

  • Venezuelan students demand end to 'deadly force' order
    Venezuelan students demand end to 'deadly force' order Wed, Feb 25, 2015

    Angry Venezuelan students marched to the justice ministry Wednesday to demand it revoke a resolution allowing police to use deadly force at protests after an officer was charged with killing a 14-year-old boy. More »

  • Protests continue during burial of Venezuela teen shot by police
    Protests continue during burial of Venezuela teen shot by police Wed, Feb 25, 2015

    By Javier Farias SAN CRISTOBAL, Venezuela (Reuters) - Sporadic protests flared in different parts of Venezuela on Wednesday after a policeman shot dead a teenager during a demonstration against President Nicolas Maduro's government in the volatile city of San Cristobal. The worst unrest was again in San Cristobal where distraught relatives of 14-year-old Kluibert Roa held a wake and funeral following his killing on Tuesday. ... More »

  • Venezuela's ruling party targets new opposition leader
    Venezuela's ruling party targets new opposition leader Tue, Feb 24, 2015

    Lawmakers from Venezuela's ruling party said Tuesday they have asked prosecutors to investigate a leading opposition lawmaker for conspiring to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro, the latest attack on his opponents. More »

  • Venezuela's ruling Socialists target another opposition leader
    Venezuela's ruling Socialists target another opposition leader Mon, Feb 23, 2015

    By Andrew Cawthorne CARACAS (Reuters) - Socialist Party legislators called on Monday for a probe of another Venezuelan opposition leader accused of conspiring against President Nicolas Maduro, days after the mayor of Caracas was arrested on similar charges. The opposition fears an investigation against Julio Borges, a parliamentarian and national coordinator of the Primero Justicia (Justice First) party, could signal a wider crackdown. Pedro Carreno, who heads the Socialists' parliamentary bloc, led a group of legislators to the Public Prosecutor's Office in Caracas to request a formal investigation. The move against Borges, 45, follows the high-profile arrest of Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma, 59. More »

  • Arrest shows Venezuelan leader panicking - mayor's wife
    Arrest shows Venezuelan leader panicking - mayor's wife Sun, Feb 22, 2015

    By Alexandra Ulmer CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's president is panicking over falling popularity and has revealed his authoritarian face by arresting Caracas's mayor, the opposition politician's wife said. Antonio Ledezma, 59, was seized by intelligence agents in his office on Thursday and charged the next day for "conspiring" against President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government which has been alleging a U.S.-backed coup plot. He knows that every day there are more opponents," Mitzy Ledezma said. The OPEC country's recession, shortages of basic goods from toilet paper to flour, and near-70 percent annual inflation have hurt Maduro, elected in 2013 to replace the late Hugo Chavez. More »

  • Venezuelans' long waits yield soap, and intelligence agents
    Venezuelans' long waits yield soap, and intelligence agents Sun, Feb 22, 2015

    People queue up outside a supermarket in Caracas on January 13, 2015 More »

  • Caracas mayor held over alleged coup plot in Venezuela
    Caracas mayor held over alleged coup plot in Venezuela Sat, Feb 21, 2015

    Caracas mayor and opposition politician Antonio Ledezma remained in custody Saturday following his arrest over what Venezuela president Nicolas Maduro alleges is a coup plot financed by the United States. More »

  • US, Latin America worry over Venezuela tensions
    US, Latin America worry over Venezuela tensions Sat, Feb 21, 2015

    The United States and Latin American nations voiced concerns Friday over political tensions in Venezuela after the socialist government arrested the opposition mayor of Caracas in an alleged coup plot. More »

  • Venezuela indicts opposition mayor on charges of conspiring
    Venezuela indicts opposition mayor on charges of conspiring Sat, Feb 21, 2015

    By Andrew Cawthorne and Alexandra Ulmer CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela on Friday indicted a veteran Caracas mayor on charges of plotting violence against President Nicolas Maduro's government and ordered he be jailed in a military prison pending trial. Maduro, the socialist leader and successor to Hugo Chavez, cast Antonio Ledezma's detention as part of efforts to stop a U.S.-backed coup. Opponents scoffed at that as a smokescreen to distract from Venezuela's economic crisis and staged small protests against what they slammed an authoritarian move. On Friday night, the state prosecutor's office said he had been indicted for conspiracy and would be jailed in the Ramo Verde military prison, where hardline opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez has been locked up for a year. More »

  • Venezuelan leader steps up offensive against opposition
    Venezuelan leader steps up offensive against opposition Fri, Feb 20, 2015

    Venezuela's socialist President Nicolas Maduro intensified his offensive against his most fervent opponents, sending the capital's mayor to jail as prosecutors planned Friday to charge him with a "violent" anti-government conspiracy. More »

  • Venezuela arrests opposition mayor accused of coup plot
    Venezuela arrests opposition mayor accused of coup plot Fri, Feb 20, 2015

    By Brian Ellsworth CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan arrested opposition leader and Caracas metropolitan mayor Antonio Ledezma on Thursday in a move the government said was needed to halt a U.S.-backed coup plot but foes decried as tyranny. Intelligence agents took the 59-year-old veteran politician from his office in the banking district of Caracas after breaking down doors and firing shots in the air, witnesses said. "I just saw how they took Ledezma out of his office as if he were a dog," wrote opposition legislator Ismael Garcia via Twitter. "They broke down the doors without an arrest warrant." The arrest comes a year after the outbreak of opposition protests calling for President Nicolas Maduro's resignation that rocked the OPEC nation and sparked violence killing 43 people. More »

  • Venezuela arrests Caracas opposition mayor over 'coup'
    Venezuela arrests Caracas opposition mayor over 'coup' Fri, Feb 20, 2015

    Masked intelligence service agents arrested the mayor of Caracas over what socialist President Nicolas Maduro alleges was a coup plot financed by the United States and directed "from Washington." More »